Freeze spread of flu these school holidays

NSW Health is urging families to remember its simplehygiene precautions while enjoying the school holidays and get a flu jab toprevent the virus hitching a ride home.

NSW Health’s Director of Communicable Disease, DrVicky Sheppeard says minimising the spread of flu only requires a few simplesteps from everyone.

“Sneeze into your elbow, wash your hands thoroughly,stay at home if sick, and remember it’s never too late in to get a flu shot,”Dr Sheppeard said.

“The actions are easy to do but not always easilyremembered so again, we urge everyone to be conscious that the flu is stillabout in this holiday period so take care.”

Along with most other parts of Australia, NSW isfeeling the effects of an early start to the flu season.

The latest weekly InfluenzaSurveillance Report shows 6234 flucases for the week ending 7 July, up from 5590 notifications the previous weekand four additional deaths, bringing the annual total to 70 confirmed deaths.

Dr Sheppeard said 2.4 million doses ofGovernment-funded flu vaccines have been distributed across NSW, including over190,000 doses for children 6 months to 3 years, and 1.18 million doses forpeople 65 years and over.

Basic hygiene is particularly important if you arevisiting elderly relatives at aged-care facilities, with the best option beingto avoid visiting if you’re sick. Inthe year to date there have been 126 confirmed influenza outbreaks in aged-carefacilities, 14 of which were reported this week.

Flu shots are free under the National Immunisation Program for pregnantwomen, people over 65 years of age, Aboriginal people and those with medicalconditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems.

“There has been strong demand, but there aresufficient supplies of free Government-funded vaccines available for eligiblepeople. So during the school holidays we are again encouraging parents andcarers of children from 6 months up to five years old to take advantage of thefree flu vaccine.”

The NSW Government continues a strong investment onstatewide immunisation programs including $2.6 million for free flu shots tochildren up to five years of age and a $1.5 million immunisation and influenzaawareness campaign. The NSW Government will invest about $130 million in the2019-20 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.

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